Anti-TNF-alpha treatment in rheumatoid arthritis with anti-Ro/SSA antibodies. Analysis of 17 cases among a cohort of 322 treated patients

Clin Exp Rheumatol. Sep-Oct 2007;25(5):676-83.


Objective: To compare the efficacy and safety of anti-TNF-alpha treatment in RA patients with and without anti-Ro antibodies, in order to detect any change in their immunological or clinical profile.

Methods: Autoantibodies in 322 patients being treated with anti-TNF-alpha drugs were studied; 17 were found to be anti-Ro positive, while 305 were anti-Ro negative.

Results: Two groups, comparable in terms of sex distribution, RA duration and anti-TNF-alpha drug employed, showed symmetrical, erosive polyarticular RA with high disease activity. Anti-TNF-alpha led to significant improvement in both groups. At baseline rheumatoid factor and ANA, globally positive in 68.6% and 40%, were more frequent in anti-Ro positive sera. ANA showed a rising trend beginning in the 6th month of treatment in both groups, which was always statistically significant compared to baseline. Anti-dsDNA antibodies, measured using either CLIFT and ELISA or the Farr assay, remained stable in the first 6 months, then increased at 12th and 18th month, and subsequently declined. No difference was detected between the two groups regarding the number or cause of dropouts, but lupus-like disease was more frequent in anti-Ro positive subjects (p = 0.012). In addition, two cases of NHL were detected.

Conclusion: Anti-TNF-alpha treatment was shown to be effective in patients with anti-Ro antibodies. Although anti-dsDNA and lupus-like disease were more frequent in anti-Ro positive patients, severe manifestations of systemic involvement were not observed. A longer follow-up is warranted to evaluate the risk of NHL in these patients.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA / immunology
  • Etanercept
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / adverse effects
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use*
  • Infliximab
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / etiology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Risk Factors
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • SS-A antibodies
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • DNA
  • Infliximab
  • Etanercept